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Asia » Armenia » West » Mount Aragats June 27th 2018

After visiting the Haghpat monastery again we set off for Ahtarak,which is back towards Yerevan. Another day and of course more monasteries and churches, Saghnosovank and then Hovhanovank monasteries were onteh drive. These were in sight of each other but a big gorge away, both in stunning settings. The first pretty inside the second built right on the edge of the gorge. Just outside the town of Ashtarak is Muhinj, or Saint George's church, a lovely stripy church with bands of red and black brickwork, this time in a garden setting. The last church of the day was my favourite, a tiny 9th century church of Saint Mary, known for its lovely frescoes inside. Two elderly ladies sitting there trying to chat with us but no common language! Opposite is a delightful cafecalled Pascal and Diodato, ... read more
Inside St Mary's church, Ashtarak
Walking through the snow Mt Aragats
View from the ridge to Lake Kari

Asia » Armenia » North » Alaverdi June 26th 2018

Drove along the apparently historic Debed Canyon (this is what the guide book says, but we didn't spot any of the churches that are supposed to line the valley). Very different scenery, green tree covered hills. Very steep and long canyon with a lot of old Soviet industrial factories along the way. Our destination of Alvaverdi town, a very ugly big town that is full of semi-derelict factories, a decrepit looking cable car and two UNESCO world heritage monasteries, Haghpat and Sanahin. Haghpat we felt was the more interesting of the two. Both are from Medieval times with libraries and great stone work. Sanahin was known for the illuminators of manuscripts. The town of Sanahin is the top of the cable car from Alaverdi and is where the factory workers lived, the cable car was for ... read more
Inside Sanahin monastery
Haghpat monastery
Debed valley from Haghpat

Asia » Armenia » East » Sevan June 25th 2018

Lovely day of driving through beautiful colourful landscape and stopping at interesting sights. First stop, at the top of a high winding pass was a Caravansary from the 13th century. Very well preserved and not renovated, had a feeling f old-world and long history. What a route though high up on this mountain pass in bad weather with camels laden with wares. Coming down from the pass there is the huge Lake Sevan, it's the largest lake in the Caucasus mountains and sits at an elevation of 1,900m. The first stop was Noratus cemetery which has hundreds of the local intricately carved memorial stones (khachkar), some of which date from ancient times. Bumped into a British/Polish couple here that we have now met in all 3 countries, including staying at the same guest house in Sighnaghi ... read more
Scenery en-route
Noratus cemetery
inside Hayravanak monastery

Asia » Armenia » South » Artashat June 23rd 2018

Picked up our Lada Niva for a 6day tour around Armenia. First stop was Geghard monastery, not so far out of Yerevan (UNESCO world heritage site, Medieval monastery). This is a big complex founded by Gregory the Illuminator (3rd Century founder of Christianity in Armenia and patron Saint of Armenia). There are some lovely carvings in the stone, both inside and outside. We were fortunate to catch a choir singing beautifully in a cave chapel. It was a very popular destination, probably due to it being Saturday. Close by is Garni temple, a left over from Roman occupation, interesting history but not so interesting to visit. From there a longer drive took us to Khor Virap monastery (17th century) which has great views to Mt Ararat, it's also where Gregory the Illuminator was incarcerated for 13 ... read more
Garni Temple
Khor Virap, Mt Ararat trying to peak out of clouds
Noravank Monastery

Asia » Armenia » West » Yerevan June 21st 2018

It's a long journey on an uncomfortable minibus with no air-con with a driver who is ken to get to his destination as quickly as possible,a a total of 6 hours including a border crossing that took one and a half hours, we arrived just behind a big tour bus. Immediate impressions of Yerevan are positive, a quiet city that’s easy to walk around. Staying quite close to Republic Square Walked in the centre of the city. From here it's easy to walk to the main sights, our first afternoon that included to the Cascades park which is a big staircase with art installations set up by the philanthropist Cafesjian. From the staircase we could just see Mt Ararat in the background on the Turkish border. The next day we did walking tour around the city ... read more
View from part way up the Cascades
GUM market
Republic Square fountain display

Asia » Armenia June 16th 2018

I think that title just about sums up Armenia in one sentence! I do like the way Lonely Planet summarises Armenia: "Few nations have histories as ancient, as complex and as laced with tragedy as Armenia. But even fewer have a culture that is as rich and as resilient”. As stated, Armenia has a long and tragic history of wars and conflicts, a number of which continue to this day. It was invaded in the early days by Mongols, Persians, Turks, Russians and many more, and even today it is in conflict with two of its immediate neighbours, with whom it has closed borders. There has been a long-simmering argument about the Ottoman Empire’s treatment of Armenians between 1915 and 1922, which the Armenians consider constitutes a genocide but this is vehemently denied by the Turks. ... read more
Coloured fountains in Republic Square
St Hripsime Church
Sunday service at Echmiadzin

Asia » Armenia » West » Yerevan June 14th 2018

Armenien - 16. – 26. Juni 2018 Im Herzen des Kaukasus Travelblog: copyright by Bernhard Sonnleitner Sa, 16.06.18 Flug Wien – Jerewan via Kiew Anreise nach Jerevan: Flug mit Ukraine International. Abflug um 15:40. . Wir werden zum Hotel gebracht und beziehen Quartier für die ersten fünf Nächte. Was wir nicht wussten: Jerewan ist die Stadt die niemals schläft. So gehen wir um 2 Uhr Nachts in ein Restaurant auf ein Bier. Daraus werden 2 mit einem kleinen landestypischen Imbiss. Ins Bett kommen wir nach netten Gesprächen, auch mit Einheimischen (Englisch sprechend, da in Amerika arbeitend) um ½ 4 Uhr Früh…Armenien 16. – 26. Juni 2018 Sa, 16.06.18 Flug Wien – Jerewan via Kiew Anreise nach Jerevan: Flug mit Ukraine Interna... read more
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Asia » Armenia » West » Yerevan October 21st 2017

FACES OF ARMENIA...The Most Beautiful Women in the World. I am so embarrassed...I can't stop shaking my head in disbelief...like a snail hiding from the sun under a leaf...like a chameleon afraid to show his true colours. What made me like this? Is it too much sun? Past my used by date? Silly due to the oppressive heat? Politeness overcoming common sense? An over abundance of self-conscious hormones in my jeans...or is it in my genes? The measure of a man is how he deals with disappointment. OK I'll fess up...missed opportunity after opportunity...not wanting to look like an Ugly Tourist...Yeh that's it. Others would say gutless I reckon. I visit Armenia voted by reliable sources as having the most beautiful women in the World...and I'm too timid to ask if I may take their photo. ... read more
Taco Me
Merri
"I Do"

Asia » Armenia » West » Echmiadzin October 2nd 2017

Gregory the Illuminator & the Monasteries & Khachkars of Armenia. Punished for the sins of his father...thrown into a pit to die...15 years in that hell hole surviving on scraps from an anonymous woman...removed to pray to heal a mad king...changing the course of history in so doing... me climbing down a skinny hole into that pit where he was imprisoned...they said it was only six metres down...feels like double that...tiny slit in the roof for light and air...am I changing the course of my own history in so doing? We pass Mt Ararat where Noah's Ark is said to have settled after the flood...snow covering its shoulders...the rest of it like a mirage...Ara our guide fervently demanding attention as he tells us a bit of history...or is it legend...bringing the Apostle of Armenia to life. ... read more
Noravank Monastery
Zvartnots Temple
Sevanvank Monastery

Asia » Armenia » South September 29th 2017

Other trips have started better. Due to a"serious incident", the M3 is closed by the police and Winchester is gridlocked. Our coach to Heathrow cannot get in to pick us up! Luckily, a knight in shining armour (Julius) offered us a lift and, after walking the High Street to get out of the gridlock, we arrived at Heathrow on time. Thanks, Julius. Armenia is a complicated place. Their history is one of occupation, always a small country between super powers. Even today, Armenia is at war with Azerbaijan, a stalemate war, and the border to Turkey is also closed. Two borders are open, from Iran and from Georgia where we enter. A large Russian army base protects against NATO aggression. Russian influence ensured that Armenia joined the Soviet free trade area rather than the EU. Armenia ... read more
Monastery
The only way into the church
Restored two storey monastery




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